Just how dangerous is a cup of coffee?

A California judge is requiring cancer warning labels on coffee. So we thought we’d take look at some of the other highly improbable risks associated with your cup of joe. We love a good cup of coffee at Risk Bites. So we were rather dismayed to discover that California judge William le Jeunesse has decided that coffee could cause cancer, and that under Proposition 65, warning labels need to be posted by companies. The ruling is based on the presence of acrylamide – a chemical that’s formed as the coffee beans are roasted, and that’s listed as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or IARC. Acrylamide is also found in many other foods, and is created when you fry foods. The trouble is, the California decision is based hazard rather than risk -- it depends on the potential of this substance to harm you, not the probability of harm occurring. So it’s hard to know whether to expect Starbucks junkies to start keeling over in the street (probably not – actually, definitely not!), or whether your chances of winning the national lottery are actually marginally better than having a bad coffee experience. And in the spirit of full disclosure, we’re still avid coffee drinkers at Risk Bites! USEFUL LINKS Coffee must carry cancer warning, California judge rules (Washington Post, March 29 2018) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/03/29/coffee-must-carry-cancer-warning-california-judge-rules/ Science Says: What we know about cancer risk and coffee (AP): https://www.circa.com/story/2018/04/01/science/science-says-what-we-know-about-cancer-risk-and-coffee National Toxicology Program fact sheet on acrylamide: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/assets/docs_a_e/acrylamide_508.pdf 1994 IARC assessment of acrylamide: https://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol60/mono60-16.pdf 2016 IARC assessment of drinking coffee, maté, and very hot beverages: https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2016/pdfs/pr244_E.pdf ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many thanks to the following for inspirational thoughts on the dangers of coffee! Keri Szejda, Diana Bowman, Heather Ross, Leonard Bruce, Elizabeth Garbee, Michael Burnam-Fink RISK BITES Risk Bites videos are devised, created and produced by Andrew Maynard, in association with the Arizona State University School for the Future of Innovation in Society (http://sfis.asu.edu). They are produced under a Creative Commons License CC-BY-SA Backing track: Mandolin Highway by Olive Musique. http://www.premiumbeat.com/royalty_free_music/songs/mandolin-highway Transcript: alugha Click here to see more videos: https://alugha.com/RiskBites

LicenseCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike

More videos by this producer

Tylenol and Hangovers: A Dangerous Mix?

Acetaminophen -- the active ingredient in Tylenol -- is bad news for your liver if you take too much of it. The same is true for alcohol. So should you avoid popping Tylenol to take the edge off the morning-after hangover? Probably yes -- although the biology behind how the two substances interac